To Trevor, intrepid researcher and discoverer of
Leonor Pimentel's poetry, with admiration.
The recent research on Spanish women writers has revived interest in several poets whose works, until recently, have remained unknown, such as Leonor de Pimentel, newly discovered by Trevor Dadson when, in search of the poetry of Diego de Silva y Mendoza, Count of Salinas, he came across the count's young lover's witty responses to his ‘motes’ and other poems with rhymes of her own. Although edited in the early twentieth century, the works of another woman poet, Catalina Clara Ramírez de Guzmán, born in 1618 in Llerena (Extremadura), have been forgotten for almost a century. Her poetry was first collected in two Spanish manuscripts and published in 1929 by Joaquín de Entrambasaguas. The most recent and much improved edition, dated 2010, is by Aránzazu Borrachero Mendíbil and by Karl McLaughlin, a student of Trevor Dadson, who began his research on Ramírez de Guzmán under Dadson's guidance.
As is the case for most women writers of early modern Spain, little is known about Ramírez de Guzmán, although Borrachero Mendíbil and McLaughlin summarise what has been discovered about her family in the Llerena town archives. Catalina Clara's roots in the town hark back at least to her maternal grandparents, since her grandfather, a member of the lower nobility, held numerous administrative positions there. Her paternal grandfather, related to the influential Ramírez de Prado family, would also gain social and political prestige. Catalina Clara's widowed grandmother was known for her business acumen, as she owned a mill and other houses in the town of Fuente de Cantos that she rented to local farmers; she also founded a chapel in the local church and donated considerable sums to the convents where her daughters professed. Far less is known about Catalina Clara's mother, Isabel Sebastiana de Guzmán, save that she gave birth to eleven children, six of whom survived. We know much more about her father: he held numerous important posts in Llerena, and travelled frequently to Madrid in order to defend the town's interest at court. As an important government figure, including that of the town's regidor, he maintained cordial relations with Llerena's most influential townspeople. Yet he also fought numerous skirmishes with local adversaries, which, when two of his sons applied for positions with the Inquisition, led to the unproven accusation against the family of being Jewish conversos.